A big challenge that we have been facing in medical domain is to search a better cure for cancer. Despite several treatment regimens prevailing in cancer treatment such as radiation therapy, a few drugs viz., Vinblastine Sulfate, Vincristine Sulfate, Uridine Triacetate, Tamoxifen Citrate, Methotrexate and several monoclonal antibodies, the cure and consequent longevity are still in dubious. A cancer patient suffering is unending. In this line, 2018 Nobel Laureates contributions have given us the hope. The immune biology underlying the investigations for cancer cure in brief is narrated in this article.
Mammalian immune organ system comprises of about 1.0 % of the total body weight of an organism. It constitutes bone marrow, thymus, spleen, lymph glands and WBCs. Of the WBCs, leukocytes and lymphocytes belong respectively to myeloid and lymphoid progeny. Embryonically, the yolk sac is the starting point for the genesis of blood cells which include RBCs and WBCs. Gradually in the development of mammalian organ systems, hemocytoblasts in the bone marrow perpetually keep differentiating into adult erythrocytes (RBCs), leukocytes and lymphocytes with the influence of cytokines and activation by the respective antigenic peptides. Each of these leukocytes and lymphocytes has destined roles in the immune modulation of an organism. Therefore, they are collectively called as immune cells. T- (Thymic), B-(Bursa of Fabricius) and NK- (Natural Killer) cells are the lymphocytes. T-cells mature in thymus gland through thymic schooling. B-cells upon priming in the germinal centres of lymphoid follicles of lymph nodes get differentiated as plasma cells that produce tailored immunoglobulins. NK cells distinguish between self and non-self cells and eradicate the latter (bacteria, etc) or missing-self cells (cancer cells). T-cells are called immune master cells as they regulate the rest of the immune functions such as tissue repair (1), mediation of inflammation (2), attack on non-self cells and missing-self cells (3), secretion of cytokines (4) and initiate the production of antibodies (5). These immune cells are in use for therapeutic purpose to suppress cancer growth. However, the trials relating to the use of immune cells in suppressing cancer growth have been gradually progressing. To begin with, the tumor infiltrated cells (TIC) are harvested and conditioned in vitro with IL-2 cytokine to recruit more number of TIC and re-infused at the site of the tumor to initiate regression (6). This reinfusion of conditioned tumor infiltrated cells is not found to be successful at all times. Therefore, the recent unfolding by James P. Allison and Tasuku Honjo, 2018 Nobel laureates in Physiology or Medicine, have revealed vividly how T cytotoxic lymphocytes (Tc) play a prominent role for cancer regression.